With New York Fashion Week right around the corner, we’ve got shopping and a whole lotta style on our mind! Lucky for us, Christie Maruka, the founder of Fashion Fix, a mobile style van and boutique, is weighing in on her favorite looks and styling secrets for the upcoming seasons.
And more so than fashion advice, she’s talking about how she climbed the corporate ladder to pursue her dream job, and ultimately created her own business that combined both her passion and her hobby. Through hard work, dedication and a whole lotta shopping, Christie has not only become a leading stylist on the East Coast, but she’s managed to optimize her philanthropic efforts all while doing what she loves.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY?
I got started in the Industry at age 15. I began at a clothing store in Shrewsbury, NJ called Kinkels. I loved dressing people the minute I started and I loved sales. My First Boss was a man named Bob, he was a very nice, kind man and we got along great. One day I had broken the vacuum by sucking up a hanger, and Bob called me in his office to help him fix it, and while he was making me dig through the dirty vacuum bag to learn what NOT to suck up he looked at me and said “you know you have a special way about you and you are going to be very successful one day.” That was the first time I said my dream out loud: to own my own clothing store similarly to Bob… and never have to dig through a vacuum bag ever again.
WHAT ARE SOME UPCOMING SPRING TRENDS?
This upcoming Spring season is filled with endless inspiration. Crop tops, full skirts, High-waisted trousers, trench coats, fluid drape dresses, utilitarian vests and jackets, sheer fabrics, gingham, ruffles, lace, shirt dresses and cape gowns… Another key trends is going to be Sporty Chic including slouchy knitted polo-buttoned up shirts. Flare pants will be making a comeback from the 70’s, and you will see these retro versions in prints and dipped in vivid colors, including denim jeans. Khaki tones will be finding their way into your wardrobe, from Military, to modern safari, khaki is the shade expected to add some much needed freshness to the upcoming spring season.
WHERE DO YOU DRAW YOUR STYLING INSPIRATION FROM?
I am inspired by so many different people, places and things. I can be on vacation and see a particular color in a flower that would look amazing on a dress. I can watch a movie with a favorite icon wearing a particular style from a different era that I will draw inspiration from. Magazines, celebrities, the streets of NYC and a lot comes from attending Fashion week. I also make inspiration boards and build looks from things that inspire me… Every client I dress and every editorial shoot I work on is so different and unique in its own way, so sometimes the inspiration gets borrowed from many different elements.
WHAT ARE SOME ITEMS THAT YOU LOVE TO SPLURGE ON? WHAT ARE SOME ITEMS THAT YOU CAN SAVE ON?
I will splurge on great shoes and handbags. I believe in spending more for quality items that will last you for quite a while. I will save on a trendy pieces of jewelry. There are so many great imitations out there, I find no reason to spend a lot on costume jewelry that will be around for just a quick season. As I’ve gotten older I find it hard to buy cheap clothing because the fit is off and the workmanship is rarely good. You pay for what you get and I’ve seen lots of crooked, uneven hems and poor stitching on cheap garments and that drives me nuts.
DO YOU HAVE SPECIFIC COLOR PALETTES FOR YOUR CLIENTS? ARE THERE CERTAIN COLORS THAT LOOK BETTER ON CERTAIN SKIN TONES?
Yes, I have favorite colors for each of my clients, but during the summer seasons sometimes they get to wear other colors that I wouldn’t normally suggest in the winter. I have some clients who look amazing in red and some that I wouldn’t dare put on them. There is no denying that certain colors will make you look better regardless of your skin’s undertone. When it comes to Fashion and Beauty, there are a few buzzwords as prevalent as “cool undertones and warm undertones”. Warm tone complexions like Jennifer Lopez & Eva Mendez look great in Yellow, orange, brown, green, ivory and warm reds. While cool toned complexions like Cameron Diaz & Scarlett Johansson look great in blue, lavender, purple, green and gray.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL APPOINTMENT LOOK LIKE FOR YOU FROM START TO FINISH?
Before I arrive to my client, I have already done my homework as far as understanding my clients likes and dislikes, what their goals are, and what he/she is looking to change about their wardrobe. I always ask for recent photos and I have a clear understanding of what his/her daily routine is, regarding their professional attire. First thing I like to do with my clients is have them try on a few things in their closet and show me what they love about their favorite items and what they wish they could change. Then I begin the “purging” process and take out what I feel is not beneficial anymore ( ill-fitting, out of style). Those Items will be donated to a great charity. I will then put together all new outfits out of the existing wardrobe and show my client a few new & different ways to wear the things they already own. I will photograph everything for them so it will be easy to remember when I’m not there. I will also leave my client a list of things I feel they are missing from their wardrobe, which I will either shop for them or take the client shopping on a future visit.
DO YOU EVER HAVE ANY TROUBLE BALANCING YOUR WORK LIFE AND HOME LIFE AS AN ENTREPRENEUR?
Yes, of course I have my days where everything seems to happen at once and life gets a bit complicated but it all usually works out just fine when you have a great support system at home with family and friends helping, you can do it all. My son is by far the most important aspect in my life, and raising him is top priority, the rest follows. I have to book my clients around his baseball schedule so I never miss a game! I am passionate about both my career and motherhood.
FOR OUR READERS TRYING TO BREAK INTO THE FASHION INDUSTRY- WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE THEM TO GET THEIR FOOT IN THE DOOR?
If you know fashion is the career path you want to take then I recommend starting young (I was 15). Get a job in a retail clothing store, and work your way up from sales to management. This will give you a lot of experience dressing people of all sizes, ages and body types. You will learn a lot from doing this. After high school, and during college, go for an internship at a designer’s showroom, where you’ll be exposed to many different aspects of the industry from design, marketing, PR, wholesale, showroom sales and styling celebrities. I worked for Calvin Klein, started as an assistant and worked my way up to an account executive, handling several department stores which gave me the experience and knowledge I needed to open up my first clothing store. It’s important to work in different areas in the industry to learn as much as you can, make great connections. I will also add that the fashion industry can be brutal, it’s not all glitz and glamour, and you have to make sacrifices. Passion has brought me success, and there have been so many amazing results and consequences from it, but beware of fierce competition in the industry. I believe in being nice, always smiling, keep your chin up and don’t get caught up in the pettiness. Stay on course and you will succeed!
HOW DO YOU COMBAT DRESSING DIFFERENT BODY TYPES?
What are some flattering styles for various body types? That’s the fun part about about my job, no two people have the same shape or style and this is where I can get creative. It’s not so rewarding dressing models who happen to look good in everything, it’s the everyday normal person that I love to transform, and it’s all about choosing the cuts and styles that are right for the individual. With every client, I identify their body type, accentuate the positive and always keep them dressed age appropriate.
For the Slender/petite, 5’4” small boned, the guiding principles are to wear shapes that don’t overwhelm your delicate frame and to avoid too many competing elements in one single outfit. Stay away from cropped pants which will only make you look shorter; opt for floor-skimming pants or jeans which are great for leg-lengthening.
For the Full Figured know that fit, color and careful attention to silhouette make outfits come together for someone who is larger. Always show a little skin at the neck or décolletage. (V-necks are a great option) Never sacrifice your waist, stylishly belting something will help create an hourglass shape. (Wrap dresses ex: Diane Von Furstenberg) are great for full figured woman. I would avoid bigger prints but feel free to add color. Accentuate the positive and no need to hide curves, take the “if you’ve got em, flaunt em” approach!
YOUR COMPANY HAS A VERY BIG PHILANTHROPIC ASPECT TO IT- WHAT CHARITIES DOES YOUR COMPANY BENEFIT AND HOW DO YOU RAISE MONEY FOR THOSE CHARITIES?
I love giving back, it’s a big and important part of who I am. I have been involved with so many charities over the past 15 years for lots of different causes such as cancer, autism, children’s hospitals, National Alopecia Areata Foundation, Woman’s centers, schools etc. I believe that giving back doesn’t always involve donating money, sometimes it’s a matter of donating your time and expertise to a cause that can benefit from your services. I sponsor and coordinate Fashion shows, style events, offer makeovers and donate money from sales. One of my favorite sayings by Anne Frank “No one has ever become poor by giving,”and have found it to be very applicable over the course of my career!